Coulson, John (1777-1862)

Primitive Methodist Magazine
Englesea Brook Museum ENBM 1990.21.14b

John was born on 14 December 1777 at Calow, nr Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Kendall comments that John was ‘religiously inclined from childhood’.  He was drawn into the revial movement and became one of the preachers of 1819.


John has the honour of being the PM Connexion’s pioneer in Bridlington. Tradition tells that he walked over from Driffield one Saturday afternoon so as to be in time for the close of the market, and that his first service was interrupted by the constable. John also made visits to Flamborough and Filey.

Whilst in Leeds in 1822, John writes in his journal that they opened Bradford, Dewsbury and Otley. He recalls a visit to Bradford where he couldn’t find a place to preach and started outdoors. Afterwards he received a letter from a young man in another denomination that was reaping the benefit of the Primitives efforts because the PMs had no place to worship. Application to a magistrate allowed John to use a building in a street known locally as ‘Devil Street’, because of the behaviour of its inhabitants. It soon became known as ‘Reform Street!

In January 1823, the Leeds circuit sent a mission to London. John walked from Leeds to London arriving on 21 January 1823 with three shillings in his pocket. He wrote to Hugh Bourne; ‘If any place in England wants missionaries, it is London.’ At that stage there was a society of 20 active in London.

Patterson describes John as an ‘enterprising and intrepid missionary’. During his time in the Hexham circuit, John directed the early work of Joseph Spoor.


John was married to Sarah, who died before 1851. Census records show two daughters.

  • Hannah (1815-1906) – a school teacher
  • Elizabeth (1820-1898) – a housekeeper

John died on 30 June 1862 in Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield.


  • 1821 Hull
  • 1822 Leeds
  • 1824 Keighley
  • 1825 Carlisle
  • 1827 Brompton
  • 1829 Winlaton
  • 1830 Newcastle
  • 1832 Hexham
  • 1834 London
  • 1835 Louth
  • 1838 Lincoln
  • 1839 Pontefract
  • 1841 Malton
  • 1843 Retford
  • 1844 Scotter
  • 1845 Retford
  • 1846 Scotter
  • 1848 Driffield
  • 1850 Bridlington
  • 1852 Driffield
  • 1853 Sheffield (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1863/5

PM Minutes 1863/7

J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p162, p184, p192

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 1, p243; vol 2, p98

W M Patterson, Northern Primitive Methodism, 1909

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers